Random channels go black on TIVO HD

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by DrDatabase, Oct 26, 2007.

  1. DrBlove

    DrBlove New Member

    Aug 9, 2007


    I have a similar story and perhaps a solution (that so far is working for me). I too was having an issue of where my S3, dual M-Card (yes multi not single) dropping channels and then sometimes they came back. The pattern was odd... one time one of my cards was not getting channels while the other one was... recently both cards were dropping about 50 channels all over the place some HD some SD some premium etc. So an already long story short, had the cable guy come out and he through the problem was that my signal was too "amplified" and that using "snap on cables" versus screw on cables was causing problems. I had an amplifier on the line that was bidirectional from Radio Shack, removed that from the line, removed an unused splitter and replaced the snap on coaxial cables, and then... every channel is back... nothing else done... nothing with the cable cards... I no phone calls to reset the cable cards... needless to say I was very surprised. When I asked him why he thought that this would fix the problem, he said that non-"Comcast" amplifiers would amplify incorrect spectrum's of signal, and that this could cause channels to drop from time to time at random times and might cause cable modems to drop for brief periods as well... to be honest I am not sure if I believe it, but it sure enough no problems since... it has worked for the last 4 days...

    Any one having this problem have amplifier/bad wire issues that might explain their issue?
  2. teddyk

    teddyk New Member

    Oct 13, 2002
    Crossposted in Cox Cable Thread..

    Same problem here. Bought my father in law a TIVO HD for Christmas and He just lost his entire digital tier (Channels 100 and up). Reboot failed to fix the problem.

    Cox tried to remotely send a signal to the cablecards to no avail. My father in law made an appointment with Cox and they sent a technician, who inexplicably did nothing with the cabecards. He didn't try to replace them, didn't check tivo diagnostic screen, nothing. He simply checked the cable companies converter box, which runs to the tv through a separate input, and pronounced that it was working and, therefore, the problem is with the TIVO.

    I called Cox and asked for a new tech who could try to replace the M Card. Coming tomorrow.


    Tivo HD
    Cox Fairfax (Virginia)
    Scientific Atlanta M-Card
  3. Mark D

    Mark D Tivo Challenged

    Jan 31, 2008
    San Antonio, TX
    Purchased a TivoHD around New Year's. Everything with setup and the cablecard went smoothly until about 2.5 hours later, then the encrypted channels froze. The cablecard menus/screens were unavailable. Rebooting would fix the problem, but again only for 2.5 hours. Basically, seems like I have the same problem that most others do here, but it occurs more often, a real pain.

    I had the cablecard replaced, then the TivoHD swapped out yesterday. A new M-card installed in the new TivoHD, and I still have the problem. My cable provider is a small company in Texas called GVTC, so they will have no clout with Tivo regarding a solution.

    My signal strength was only showing in the 60's and 70's, so I put a motorola bi-directional 15db signal amp on the line. This increased the signals to 70's and 80's, but the problem persists. Tivo representative said my signal needs to be a minimum of 97%. Cable company says -6db at the wall jack for digital signal is plenty, especially since it was before the signal amp was installed. Tivo reps had no idea what the signal should be at the wall, but said the Tivo signal should be high 90's.

    I am going to explore the signal issue some more (try to hookup Tivo directly to cable drop with another line), but I may have to abandon the TivoHD. I've been through 3 cablecards and two TivoHDs in a month. I love the features, but it just doesn't work. I assume the Tivo Series3 HD has the same issues?
  4. Feb 3, 2008 #124 of 140

    brewman Member

    Jun 28, 2003
    I am with Charter and have an S3 with 2 S-cards and an HD with a single M-card. I have no problems with my S3, but my HD experiences the "no channel" (gray/black) problem on a regular basis. I'm going to try havnig the m-card replaced with two S-cards and see what happens. BTW, I have no problems with audio/video sync/droppouts on my S3.
  5. Feb 3, 2008 #125 of 140

    Balzer Active Member

    Nov 12, 2006
    Sioux Falls, SD


    I have had this problem occasionally since I purchased my TivoHD last July. It has always been just the basic analog cable channels that went black. The digital and HD channels always continue to work. Rebooting fixes it. It happened three times in the first week after I purchased it, and occasionally since then, probably just over a dozen times total in 7 months. After those three times in the first week, I called Tivo support and they did some basic troubleshooting, then gave me a case number and forwarded it to an engineer or something. They called me back the next day and left a message on my voice mail, asking if I would remove the two Motorola S-cards and see if it happened without those installed. I didn't want to do that, and miss out on my HD programming, so I didn't return the call and didn't follow up. It's been so intermittent since then that I decided not to worry about it. Most of the programs I record are off HD channels anyway. On a side note, if I could get Sci-Fi and F/X in HD, I wouldn't have to record much of anything off the basic cable channels. Besides, a lot of the shows that I've missed are replayed several times later in the week, or I can watch them online or download them if I have to.
  6. Feb 3, 2008 #126 of 140

    BrianAZ Back on the wagon

    Aug 13, 2007
    Chandler, Az
    When this happens to me, my HD channels revert to showing the non-HD version making it appear as though they're not affected. I lose everything above channel 22 as well as any non-local HD channels like HBO, Discovery, etc. My ABC/NBC/CBS/CW/etc all show SD content with the black bars on the sides until I reboot.
  7. Feb 7, 2008 #127 of 140

    rtvtom New Member

    Nov 23, 2006
    I am on Cox Phoenix, and I have had this problem since October. TiVoHD goes black on all digital channels above 22 at least once a week. Since about mid-December the local channels (3, 5, 10, 12, etc) have bad tiling. Signal strengths are all good. My Series 3 box I have had since August 06 has been perfect since day 1 with its two single stream SA CableCARDs. With the TiVoHD Box, I have already had Cox techs out 3 times, and have tried several different vintages of both Multi and Single-stream cards, and none will do the trick. I also got my box warranty swapped for another and still have the same issue.

    When are TiVo, SA and Cox going to actually fix this!?!?

    According to my Cox techs, the Cox Phoenix headend Engineers don't even have a TiVoHD box to test on yet, even with all the problems that seem to revolve around the TiVoHD/SA Card/Cox lethal combination (which seems to have the highest failure rate on the Cox Phoenix system n particular). I told them I'd lend them my box for testing -- anything to help get this resolved!

    One "workaround" of sorts for the SD locals I have come up with (for a temporary survival tactic) is to put in a splitter behind the box. I split the cable and then fed the signal to both the "Antenna" and "Cable" connectors, then I redid Guided Setup and chose Antenna and Cable, this way the VHF SD locals can also be tuned as analog -- bye bye constant tiling! Now I can once again live with [only] the weekly reboots for the intermittent black digital channel issue!

    There are definately two separate "My TiVo's in black" issues. The CableCARD issue (low EMM counts) AND the one where exiting out of certain menus using the Live TV button (without left arrowing all the way back out several layers first) will result in black on all channels and even black background to menus.

    I have ordered some attenuators and in-line tilt filters from smarthome.com based on a theory that unbalanced strengths on the cable feed are not received well by the TiVoHD unit. I will post my findings with that once I receive the hardware and test some of it.
  8. Feb 8, 2008 #128 of 140

    EEsooner New Member

    Feb 8, 2008
    I had a similar issue with my Series 3. I had 2 S cards installed - 1 would not work (BAD_SEED_CHECKSUM error). So for the next tech visit, he brings an M Card. In reading the threads I thought that an M card and an S card could work in a series 3. The tech thought that all I needed was a single M card, although I knew that would not work.

    So we give the single M card a go. It does not work - downloads everything, receives EMM's, but is not showing the channels. "It needs time" says the tech, and "let's install the good S card". After installing the S card that was previously working, the tivo begins to show channels. The M card however is still not showing all the channels (similar to what is described in this thread). Some channels work - some are grayed out. Ones that are grayed out work some times and some times they do not.

    I call tivo support and finally the tech tells me that in a series 3 you have to either have 2 M cards or 2 S cards, but mixing will not work. I believe him as clearly my M card is not working.

    Third visit from comcast and the tech brings me an S card. We take out the M card, plug in the S card, he activates, calls CSR and within 5 minutes it is up and working. I record on one tuner and check the other - working like a charm. Have been up and running for 3 days now and no longer am I seeing the occassional channel being grayed out.

    Not sure if this applies to the issues people have been discussing on this, but I thought I would share.
  9. nirvanayoda

    nirvanayoda New Member

    Aug 11, 2006
    Anyone ever fix this problem? I still have it.
  10. yroca

    yroca New Member

    Dec 6, 2004
    Same here. Same issues. There is talk on another thread by TiVoPony of a software update in the next few weeks - but since he hasn't psoted here, I am not sure it will have anything pertaining to this issue.

    Any update from anyone else on this?
  11. m_jonis

    m_jonis Member

    Jan 3, 2002
    Albany, NY
    Nope, still waiting for Tivo to fix it.
  12. colflagg

    colflagg New Member

    Sep 19, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    Any updates on a fix for this issue?
  13. h0mi

    h0mi Member

    Dec 28, 2007
    Ive had this problem from time to time with Cox in San Diego but today, restarting the tivo failed to fix it. RIght now Im in the middle of redoing the guided set up and its taking forever & a day and did not appear to fix the issue. Ill try some of the thinks mentioned earlier in the thread but this is getting exasperating and makes me want to cancel my tivo service altogether and figure out some way of ditching the tivo.
  14. rtvtom

    rtvtom New Member

    Nov 23, 2006
    I just spoke with a Cox Phoenix tech support supervisor, he called me to give me an update. He informed me that he made some calls and sent some emails up the food chain and got word that SA has a fix in the works (in testing now) and that this fix should be pushed out the the cards soon. Let's hope "soon" is really soon and that it actually does the trick!

    Meantime, in response to h0mi's post, I have found that once or twice (in the midst of dozens of reboots for this issue) in the event the reboot DOES NOT return functionality, that the cards (in the diag menu) will display that they are not autorized. When they lose authorization you need to call your cable co and insist they "re-authorize" the cards not just "hit" the cards. DO NOT let them talk you into a truck roll, don't take no for an answer and escalate to a supervisor if needed.

    One of the Cox reps tried to tell me that they were not obligated to support TiVo/CableCARD config. I shut him down quick. I informed him that any device that accepts CableCARD is in cimpliance with Cablelabs specs and that the FCC mandate that cable companies "play nice" with CableCARD makes no exception for TV sets vs DVRs. None of the cable techs that have been dispatched to my house were even aware that the cable companies have been required by law to support CableCARDs since last July. I even gave one of the techs a copy of TV Technology with an article on that very fact.
  15. BrianAZ

    BrianAZ Back on the wagon

    Aug 13, 2007
    Chandler, Az
    Thanks for the update! I've been trying to get Cox Executive Relations to give me the scoop on the investigation but haven't received anything yet.
  16. xoclipse

    xoclipse New Member

    Jun 8, 2007
    All my channels are black right now and restarting isn't helping...this is really frustrating. So Cox is going to be updating the CableCard firmware to fix this issue?
  17. Roderigo

    Roderigo New Member

    Mar 11, 2002
    Brookdale, CA
    Actually, cable companies have had to support cablecards for much longer than that (I forget the date). Last July was when they had to have their own newly deployed boxes using cablecards.
  18. rhornsby

    rhornsby New Member

    Jul 31, 2004
    Columbus, OH
    I live in Columbus, OH and my only option for cable providers is TimeWarner. I've been going round and round with them and TiVo about this very problem on my S3. We've replaced the two S cards with two M cards. TiVo replaced my box at one point with a refurb, but it didn't fix the problem - and I obviously lost all of my stored programs, preferences, etc. I wouldn't have minded nearly as much if the problem was fixed (or if the damn copyright flag wasn't stopping me from archiving the content).

    I've gotten multiple different answers from TiVo (get M cards; cable signal loss; this is an issue with SA cards but not Motorola cards; etc) and the cableco. TiVo sometimes says this is a "known problem", but when I called just last night, they still had no ETA for a resolution. Like others have mentioned, this is a significant issue when you expect the TiVo to change channels and record unattended. Rebooting the box every night may or may not work - because the problem happens so randomly.

    Super frustrated that I paid so much money for this thing. I wish I would have understood the problem when it first started happening shortly after getting the cablecards. I'm really at a loss here.
  19. illegalprelude

    illegalprelude New Member

    Jan 19, 2009
    I have to join the bandwagon and report this problem as well. Ive had it for almost a year now.

    With my Tivo Series 3, all my channels work fine and even my basic HD channels like NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox work fine, but the problem is with all the higher HD channels like TNT, USA, Discovery, MTV, Sci-fi etc.

    Now i know these channels over all work because in my house, I also have a Time Warner Digital Box hooked up and those show the channels just fine, just the Tivo unit does not pick them up and they USED to.

    Now ive done the rebooting of my tivo unit and neither Card 1 or 2 pick up thse channels but the banner, does indeed display the information.

    I just called TW and they reblasted my Cable Cards and nothing, same issue. Im going to go into the TW store today and see if I can get new Cable Cards and see if that fixes anything....
  20. rhornsby

    rhornsby New Member

    Jul 31, 2004
    Columbus, OH
    A call to TiVo and/or TimeWarner usually was able to fix the problem - but the fix was always temporary, and inexplicable - no rhyme or reason. The channel didn't seem to matter, and it didn't make a difference if it was HD or not.

    I *tend* to blame TW - because the problem started intermittently and rarely. It progressively over about a year or so happened more often and was more difficult to fix. TiVo replaced the box, I had the cablecards replaced, etc. However, TiVo also told me more than once that they were aware of the problem and that a software fix was in the works - but the next call maybe no one at TiVo knew what I was talking about. So frustrating, I finally gave up and canceled the subscriptions on both my S2 and S3.

    Now I have the AT&T u-verse DVR, and it sucks. Just in time for TiVo and Netflix to finally get their sh*t worked out.

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